Sixteen runs in the first two innings propelled the Camp Verde High School baseball team to 19-0 thrashing of visiting Wickenburg High School in four innings on Thursday, March 2.
Cowboys senior pitcher Carson Zale had a big day on the mound and in the batters box, giving up three hits, striking out five and walking two for the complete game shutout. He hit his second home run of the week, and his career, to go three for three with three RBIs and two runs scored.
“I was hitting great at the plate,” Zale said. “I was seeing the ball well. He [Wickenburg senior Kyle Macias] threw me a fastball about belt-high and I couldn’t hold off.”
Zale did allow Wrangler baserunners on the corners with one out in the first inning, but senior catcher Easton Braden caught one trying to steal second and Zale struck out the last.
The Cowboys’ [7-0] came out with guns blazing in the first, but were also helped out by a lackluster Wickenburg defense.
Leadoff hitter and senior first baseman John Castillo got aboard with a single and found second after a balk. A wild pitch allowed him to advance to third, and he scored off of an infield RBI single by senior shortstop Wyatt Howe.
Zale singled and Braden reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. Senior third baseman Ryan Cain drove Howe home with a fielder’s choice, and the runs kept pouring in, with the Cowboys batting through the lineup to reach an 8-0 lead.
“We made some improvements this week,” Cowboys head coach Will Davis said. “We made sure offensively we saw pitches, and against a pitcher that was struggling it worked out really well.”
In the second, an outfield miscommunication between sophomore center fielder Dominiq Bruno and senior right fielder Zach Wester allowed the leadoff Wrangler on base. Zale struck out the next two batters and a ground out ended the inning.
Camp Verde chased starting pitcher junior Cole McCawley after the first, but showed no mercy on his replacement, senior Rony Ruiz.
Cain scored the ninth run, and the bases were jacked with no outs once again, aided by two walks. Another walk sent in the 10th run, and two of the eight total runs were helped in by glaring infield errors. The Cowboys led 16-0 with no sign of slowing down.
“Momentum, we kept it going,” said Bruno, who finished with three RBI on one hit and two runs scored. “One hit led to another. We kept our eye on the ball, that helps a lot.”
Wickenburg got one runner on base in the third, again with the help of an error. Camp Verde totaled three.
Macias took the mound for the Wranglers in the third and quickly got two outs. But Howe drove in Bruno for run No. 17, and Zale finished things off with his two-run shot.
The Wranglers showed signs of life in the fourth by loading the bases with no outs. Cain and Zale preserved the shutout, opting to throw home on consecutive plays. The game was sealed on the latter; Braden got the force out at home and gunned down the base-runner at first.
“I liked it. Things got a little wild in the fourth,” Zale said. “After a long hitting inning you get relaxed and out of the groove. Coach talked to me and I made some adjustments.”
Typically the mercy rule is applied when a team has an advantage of 10-runs or greater after five innings, but Davis agreed to Wickenburg skipper Gary Hodgkiss Jr.’s proposal to call the game after four.
“We like to keep going, it’s never over till its over,” Bruno said.
The team played rival Chino Valley High School at home on Monday, March 6, but results were unavailable at press time. It next plays from Thursday, March 9, to Saturday, March 11, at the Route 66 Baseball Classic.